Green filmmaking: Baby Gravy and Sweetheart

Latest 28 May 2020

News Story

Sustainable practice is achievable for productions of all sizes, from low-budget shorts to big features, and can help productions save money by making better use of resources.

Producer and Film London 2020 Lodestar Michelle Antoniades was keen to implement sustainable production methods on 2017 London Calling short Baby Gravy, which then influenced Microwave feature Sweetheart, wrapping production in 2019.

Baby Gravy- a short about a same-sex couple awaiting the arrival of their sperm donor - was consciously shot in a single location, with crew car sharing to cut down on travel costs. On-site catering and waste facilities were used, with each cast and crew member having a reusable water bottle. Michelle only printed scripts were absolutely necessary, introducing digital call sheets instead. By using these sustainable measures, the production saved £150 on catering, water bottles, petrol and printing costs.

Still of short film Baby Gravy. Two young women sit on top of a wall

Still of Baby Gravy, 2017

With such a positive result, Michelle decided she would apply these protocols to debut feature Sweetheart, a comedy drama about socially awkward 17-year-old AJ as she embarks on her first romance during a family holiday at a caravan park in Dorset.

Due to the road trip narrative, Michelle acknowledged this as both a challenge, and an opportunity to really push green filmmaking: “We could do all the driving in one go. I want to monitor carbon footprint. It’s a low-budget feature but you can still be environmentally sustainable.”

Michelle’s advice to filmmakers considering a greener route; it is always affordable. “You can definitely afford to do it. You just need to take the time. People think it’s an extra job, but it’s worth it in the end and it doesn’t take that long. You just think of all the practices you do in pre-, production and post-, and figure out a way to make them as sustainable as possible. Break down every aspect of what you buy and use and how it’s packaged, and ask yourself if you really need it.”

Green Screen

Green Screen is a practical online tool that supports environmentally friendly filming in London, a joint initiative between Film London and sustainability consultancy Greenshoot. The Green Screen pilot programme and online platform was made possible with support from Creative Skillset. It is supported by the London Filming Partnership and London's Borough Film Services.

Green Screen: Europe

Film London are lead partner on Interreg Europe funded partnership project Green Screen. The scheme will work across eight EU regions over five years to improve policies and achieve measurable success in reducing the carbon footprint of the film and TV industries. Participating European regions will improve policies to motivate and equip the current and future workforce to adopt sustainable practices and reduce CO2 emissions.